Re: [linux-audio-user] Opening up the discussion

From: Kevin Cosgrove <kevinc@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Sun Jul 24 2005 - 10:16:46 EEST

On 24 July 2005 at 1:11, Jono Bacon <jonobacon@email-addr-hidden> wrote:

> In the article I clarify the position that feature-wise, audio
> production on Linux is pretty good. Many of the issues that I was
> discussing were that some pre-requisite knowledge is required before
> you can get started. It seems that to record on Linux you need to have
> trawled through documentation, the archives for this list and read up
> on the intracies of getting the different parts of the system working.
> To me, this seems like a flaw in the offering - surely the user should
> be able to get up and running straight away - they download their
> package of choice, install and run. Would this not be better?
> To direct the discussion further, I would be interested in your
> thoughts on the following things:
> - do you all feel that it is fairly simple to get started with Linux
> and recording? Am I smoking crack? :)

If recording is plugging in a mic or a musical keyboard and recording
a bit for the family in the next time zone, then it is fairly easy.
Read the FAQ regarding "Q: I don't git no sound!? A: Unmute your
speakers in the mixer" then fire up Audacity. Like any recording,
computer based or otherwise, at that point you'll have to deal with
recording levels, etc.

If recording is bringing the band in and laying down your latest
hit on multitrack gear, then there is a lot more to attend to.
I'm running a fairly modern kernel, and it needed one patch to
get it to have low latency and avoid xruns. Recording and mixing
8 tracks at once barely makes my system breath hard. I can do
that with lots of app's open. I use jackd-realtime via qjackctl
as my audio subsystem. For recording in this way I use ardour.
For a MIDI sequencer I use Rosegarden, which also has a fair
notation editor. Noteedit is also a good notation editor.

If recording involves much MIDI gear, then fire up Rosegarden,
and plug in your MIDI gear. All the usual hardware MIDI
headaches will apply.

If you want easy, then turn-key might be a good way to go. There
are a few Linux distributions which are more turn-key than
others. My own distribution is Mandrake, which is a lot better
than some, but certainly not the best if only ease of audio is
considered. I think that Paul Davis', primary author of ardour,
"Linux Audio Systems" company packages turn-key Linux audio
hardware just right for use in a high featured audio environment,
what you might call "professional". Check the website
for details.

I'm unqualified to answer the 2nd question. ;-)

> - do you feel there is a seperation between a professional and an
> amateur? So, the software would 'just work' for the amateur, but the
> professional should really know the specifics of the system and how to
> set it up.

Absolutely there's a difference between the tasks of wanting a
simple recording and wanting more flexibility and more tracks
at once. It's not really a pro/amateur split to me. I've been
semi-pro for many years now, and I still fire up the "amateur"
apps when I want quick and easy, get in & get out.

> - if you do feel it is a bit tough to get up and running without
> reading up on all of this, what do you feel are the barriers, both
> technical and socially? I am curious to see whether these barriers
> could be solved.

There are barriers on all three systems I've seen in use:
Windows, Mac & Linux. Hardware issues apply to all due to
routing of audio and MIDI, and all the complexities that might
arise there. This applies with a great range of degree depending
on how sophisticated the desired result is.

- I've been doing sound on Linux since before my kids were born!
;-) Seriously tho, I've been doing sound on Linux since before
the tools were good, up through now, when I think they're pretty
good, with room to improve into being outstanding. They're good
enough that I don't need to buy a dedicated DAW. In my own
experience once an application reaches maturity, then it's quite
solid in use, and stays that way for the life of my computer. I
don't have to worry about loading some new DLL and ruining some
aspect of my recording software or its stability. One friend of
mine had to reinstall Windows a few times because of this, and
he's had to reboot his machine between using applications with
DLLs that conflict.

- On a Mac I used E-magic's Logic. Wow! What a hard piece of
software to learn that was. The only thing that got me through
it was the gtr/key player in my band who worked at Apple as a
developer for years and also used Logic. It took me literally a
couple years to get everything set up the way I wanted to work.
Before that I was always compromising in some undesirable way,
and I ended up working more on the music tools than on the music.
At one point my Apple friend decided to go the PC route. That
lasted about 1 year until he and his family had had enough of
Windows and kicked the PCs out of the house. They now have a
fully Mac home. His 10 year old used iMovie recently to put
together a small movie, complete with special effects. I've been
tempted at times to go with a Mac again, but they're just so
expensive, and more so when adding something like Pro-Tools.

- On PCs all I can say is that three other bandmates tried to
run those. One was running Finale' on a very old computer that
he never connected to the net, nor ever upgraded. It's treated
him quite well. He is a DSP engineer by trade and does things
like programming his own convolution based filters, starting in
Mathcad. Another friend uses her computer for barebones MIDI
stuff, but uses a BOSS DAW for recording after trying for months
to get her PC to run music software well enough; it kept crashing
the system. The last friend who tried music software on a PC
also had quite a lot of trouble, and never got it working. He is
a sr. software developer for a company that makes hardware for
the video on demand industry.

> As I say, I am keen to engage in some constructive discussion
> here, and I look forward to your thoughts. :)

Awesome idea. We can only improve things if we own up to the
weaknesses and fix them. Open source is really cool in this
respect for what it allows to happen, not that it will happen,
but that it can happen. If you have specifics, then clearly
articulating them, and getting them to the right eyes, is a
really good thing. I expect you do have specifics, but I didn't
read the thread to which you referred.


Received on Sun Jul 24 12:15:05 2005

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